INSAS (an abbreviation of Indian National Small Arms System) is a family of infantry arms consisting of an assault rifle, a light machine gun and a carbine. It is manufactured by the Indian State Ordnance Factory Board at its Ishapore factory. The Insas Assault Rifle is now the standard infantry weapon of the Indian Armed Forces.
Since the late 1950s, the Indian armed forces had been equipped with a licensed reverse-engineered copy of the famous Belgian FN FAL rifle. This copy is considered to be a distinct weapon (although certainly not an original design) since its parts cannot be interchanged with either the metric or inch-pattern versions of the FAL. As the 7.62 mm self-loading rifles started to become obsolete by the 1980s, India began to develop the INSAS, incorporating features from several popular rifle designs. Although largely based on the ever-popular AK-47, the INSAS has a number of differences making it a unique weapon. It has features borrowed from the FN FNC, the AK-74, the IMI Galil and the G3.
During the late 1980s, the Indians expressed interest in purchasing (and possibly manufacturing under license) an East German-designed AK chambered for the 5.56x45mm cartridge. The deal ultimately fell through.
The INSAS system was originally planned to have three component weapons: a standard rifle, a carbine, and a squad automatic rifle (LMG), all chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO ammunition. In 1997 the rifle and LMG were ready for mass production, and in 1998 the first units were observed armed with INSAS rifles for the Republic Day Parade . The mass introduction of the INSAS rifle was initially delayed by the lack of the domestically made 5.56 mm ammunition and India accordingly bought significant stocks of ammunition from the Israeli company, IMI. At least 300,000 INSAS rifles are in service with the Indian army; some of these have seen action in Indo-Pakistani conflicts.
The INSAS rifle is broadly based on the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 action, but with many modifications. The basic gas-operated action (short stroke gas system, rotating bolt, and stamped steel receiver) is of the Kalashnikov pattern. However, the gas system is fitted with a manual gas regulator similar in design to that found on FN FAL rifles as well as a gas cutoff. The charging handle is positioned on the left side of the forearm; it is similar in position and design to German HK G3 rifle.
The selector/safety switch is located at the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip allowing for single shots and three-round bursts. The rifle is fitted with a side-folding carrying handle, and either a solid or side-folding metal buttstock. Furniture can be made from wood or polymer. Standard magazines are made from semi-translucent polymer and contain 20 rounds. Longer 30-round magazines of similar design are available for the INSAS LMG but can also be used in the rifle. The sights consist of a hooded front, mounted on top of the gas block, and a diopter rear, mounted on the receiver cover. The flash suppressor is shaped to accept NATO-standard rifle grenades. INSAS rifles can be fitted with AKM-style multipurpose knife-bayonets.
In the assault rifle version, it has semi-auto and 3-round burst modes much like the US M16A2. Derived from the INSAS weapon systems, the INSAS Excalibur Mark-I is ergonomically designed with a folding butt and can fire 20 and 30-round magazines. It is also fitted with a Picatinny rail for mounting of opto-electronic devices. The INSAS Excalibur variant, to be used by the Special forces, has Semi-automatic and full automatic fire modes.
Under-barrel grenade launchers and bayonets have been developed for the INSAS Rifle, which are also compatible with the AK-47s used by paramilitary forces.
Insas rifles have been exported to the neighboring kingdom of Nepal. Although other parties have shown some interest, till now, none have yet come forward to purchase. The INSAS rifle was sold at a highly discounted rate to the government of Nepal, and many more given as military aid to combat the Maoist insurgency in that country. Some sources claim that around 100,000 weapons were exported to Nepal as part of this agreement.
The INSAS rifle saw combat with Indian soldiers during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan. According to the Times of India, the rifle had some reliability problems in the very cold climate in which that conflict took place. Due to the cold weather, the rifle would jam occasionally and the polymer magazines would crack in the cold. There were also cases wherein the rifle would fire in full auto, while in three-round burst fire mode. According to the manufacturers, these problems have now been fixed.
After King Gyanendra seized power, and the relations between India and Nepal cooled, with India refusing Military aid, there were reports that the rifle malfunctioned in a gunbattle with the Maoists, leading to the loss of men. However, this was refuted by the Indian Embassy, and trials conducted later before the RNA showed that the rifle was satisfactory, and that the malfunction had been due to poor handling and cleaning of the rifle by the soldiers. These drawbacks had been fixed after the Kargil Conflict in 1999, exposed the problems that the INSAS rifles could face.
* Cartridge: 5.56x45mm NATO Special
* Operation: as for AR (no 3-round burst)
* Locking: Rotating bolt
* Feed: 30-round plastic box magazine
* Weight: fixed butt, empty, 6.23kg, loaded 6.73kg; folding butt,empty, 5.87kg, loaded 6.37kg
* Length: fixed butt, 1.05m; butt folded, 890 mm; butt extended, 1.025m
* Barrel: standard, 535 mm; short, 500 mm
* Rifling: 4 grooves, rh, 1 turn in 200 mm
* Sights: fore, blade; rear, flip aperture, 200 and 1000 m
* Sight radius: 475 mm
* Muzzle velocity: 925m/s (std barrel), 915m/s (short barrel)
* Muzzle energy: 1780J (std barrel), 1740J (short barrel)
* Recoil energy: 2.75J (std barrel), 2.85J (short barrel)
* Rate of fire: as for AR
* Max effective range: 700m (std barrel), 600m (short barrel)
* Manufacturer: Indian Ordnance Factory Board, Rifle Factory, Ishapore, West Bengal State, (commonly called the Ishapore Rifle Factory). The Small Arms Factory in Kanpur makes .22, .32 & .38 automatic pistols and revolvers, also the 9mm Browning Hi-Power pistol under license.
* INSAS assault rifle 5.56 mm(Foldable and Fixed Butt variants)
* Excalibur 5.56 mm carbine (Select fire between automatic and semi-automatic modes)
* MINSAS 5.56 mm personal carbine (short barrel commando version, 5.56 x 30 mm ammunition, for close quarter battle use)
* LMG 5.56 mm INSAS (Foldable and Fixed Butt variants)